Being in the Main the Mouth of Olde House Rules

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Wesely and The Baron of Braunstein!

The game formerly known as Braunstein! is about to be re-born, hopefully within the month, as Baron of Braunstein!, now licensed and endorsed by David Wesely himself and having an appendix of original material from the good Major covering the medieval period in his fictional town.  Exciting stuff!

Our purpose from the beginning was to recapture the feeling of enthusiastic amateurs making their own fun, and acknowledging the game that made it all possible only seemed right.  Mr. Wesely is extraordinarily gracious in helping us achieve this goal, and we're thrilled that he let us work in his world...

The good Major found our rules "very nice" and described them as being "the kind of product Arneson was thinking of", which is just an incredible compliment from the father of our hobby!

German castles figured prominently as
inspiration for Wesely's fictional Braunstein
(photo courtesy of Robyn George)

At the point of Braunstein, all of gaming gradually diverged into separate branches; the continuation of Wesely's mode of play, and role-playing as we know it today.  We hoped to preserve the excitement of creating these games for the first time, so fantasy fan or otherwise, it all started here...       

Yes, that's Major Wesely (U.S. Army, Ret) on
the left and Dave Arneson at the head of the table
(courtesy of the Minneapolis Tribune, 1966)

Anyone who might have purchased this title can still access it through their libraries and should be looking for an update and the return of our sci-fi Retrospace at Drive-Thru RPG!

We're both retired military officers, but Wesely outranks me as suits an elder statesman of our hobby.  He's the real Baron of Brausntein, and we're delighted in his correspondence.  Stay tuned; there's more coming, and we'll let you know.  In the meantime, if you already own the game(s), keep on playing and have fun! 

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Betelgeuse: An Otherworldly Teaser...

Normally, we're reviewing new releases under our own P&P Open Supplement License.  This time, however, we're not so much reviewing as previewing, and very lucky we are, for the author has kindly provided us with periodic updates to a release that holds potential of literally otherworldly proportions...      

Red Skies Over Betelgeuse, the upcoming release by Bryan Steward of the great Black Paperclip Games!

This thing is a first.  Specifically, the first campaign setting commercially available for P&P.  Most fitting, because Black Paperclip released the first commercially available adventure module as well (The Uncanny Abode), which was great stuff!

And so, not to give too much away (and turning this thing into a full-blown review), here's an overview:

Sometime in our future, humanity (some, at least) flee a dying planet for greener pastures.  The new world they select is inhabited already (who knew), and just when things start to settle down, invaders arrive and blow things up.  These are repelled, and those left behind assimilate just in time for yet another invasion, and if that isn't enough, the planet is slowly dying!

This illustration, from Pollard Studios, tells
the whole story better than we could!

Red Skies is set in a fading world, where adventurers explore forgotten, ancient cities, fight terrifying flora and fauna, and get rich on the treasures of the past.  Familiar territory, but with a massive twist.  Old tech and so-called magic both exist by side, but in a whole new and exciting way.  This isn't the cyberpunk of the Shadowrun game or the advanced orcs of Warhammer...

It's something completely different and quite refreshing!  You'll know what we mean when it gets released!

Steward deftly exploits the simplicity of P&P and re-imagines its magical subject matter in clever ways, re-skinning the game for players and referees alike.  For instance, there are new spells to cast alongside the old, and with some new restrictions that will make magicians really have to think!  Savants also get some cool new powers and abilities, and all of this is well-explained. 

So be on the lookout for this exciting release.  A world where cycle-riding gobs face off against tough "dwarves" and hive-minded, and otherworldy "elves".  A world where magicians build strange towers to harness their powers, and everyone fears the deadly power of the planet's lingering radiation!

And for those who appreciate Steward's conversational and fun writing style, it's all there!  Oh, and expect a visual treat, since the incomparable Pollard Studios is supplying a full color cover illustration to complement Bryan's interior.  That said, it's gonna be color inside and out - another first to get excited about!

Saturday, May 23, 2015

The Forgotten Prisoner (Pits & Perils)

Last time we talked about the classic Aurora Movie Monsters model kits as old-school inspiration.  This time around, we're taking it a step further and doing one for Pits & Perils!  Our subject, the enigmatic Forgotten Prisoner, one of the few not based on an actual movie monster.  We love this guy, so here goes...

Those left to die sometimes return,
with greater power and freedom than in life!

THE FORGOTTEN PRISONER: Yes, this is based off a 70s model kit, having certifiable old-school pedigree, and if you've ever actually assembled one, please let us know:

          ATTACKS  LEVEL  MOVE  SIDE  SIZE  NUMBER  TREASURE
            1(*)     6     50'   C     M       1      (*)

Sometimes, prisoners are left to die; chained to a wall or languishing in some cell, etc.  When this happens, the embittered spirit lingers near their remains, travelling up to 1 mile from wherever they died.  This can lead to terrifying hauntings that defy all attempts at exorcism, even by clerics.

Forgotten prisoners are invisible to all but the ethereal, even through magic and, even then, are only affected by magical weapons or spells.  When encountered on these terms, the prisoner is a 
terrifying foe, attacking with a chilling touch that requires saving dice (rolled at +1) lest the target lose their next round and, if applicable, initiative due to a morbid, deathly fear.

Otherwise, forgotten prisoners are invisible and cannot directly engage characters, although they might still manipulate their surroundings by throwing objects up to 50 pounds and causing injury under the right circumstances.  Given the nature of their deaths, prisoners are not subject to clerical turning.

If the physical remains (what is left of them) can be recovered, removed, and given a religious burial, the spirit will quiet and the hauntings cease.  Otherwise, slain ones reform in 1d6+1 days to resume their activities, noting that some prisoners may go to great lengths to conceal (and defend) their mortal remains...  

This fine kit is still available, by the way.  Get yours here!!!   

Sunday, May 17, 2015

A Model Inspiration...

Old-school gamers sometimes face charges of NOSTALGIA!, and this just might be true.  After all, if we had happy childhoods, why on earth wouldn't we appreciate our own past?

But at the same time, there's much, much more.  Old-school games developed under a completely different set of conditions, and knowing (and appreciating) these is important because it frames how old-school gaming approached its own subject matter...

For instance, OD&D (and the very first Blackmoor campaign) was derived in part from the Dark Shadows TV series!  In fact, the whole of geekdom in its infancy was largely cobbled from scattered and varied contemporary fare, like comic books, movies, and television shows as opposed to the present day, where fantasy materials are more mainstream and coherently packaged because, after all, geekdom is now an established genre unto itself...

Even with its many subdivisions (and take your pick here)!

Not only a great movie monster,
but also a fun model and an inspiration
for gaming's flesh golem! 

Walk into a bookstore, and you'll find rows of fantasy and sci-fi books largely corresponding to some established conventions of whatever genre they represent.  Not so back in the early 1970s, and such nostalgia can also be an actual appreciation of (and genuine preference for) how things were different then. 

So now that our entire childhoods in the 1970s can be framed as inspiration for old-school gaming (clever, huh), here's an excellent bit of nostalgia: The Aurora Movie Monster Models!


In the 70s, you MIGHT call yourself a "science fiction" fan, or maybe just said that you "liked monsters and stuff".  So between all those comic books and weekly episodes of The Night Stalker, we entertained ourselves with these fine model kits depicting various movie monsters, like Frankenstein, etc.

These were glue-together (as opposed to snap-together) and had assorted glow-in-the-dark parts, normally, heads and possibly claws, depending on the monster in question.  And aside from providing ample excuse to snuff some glue, they were LOTS of fun!

We didn't assemble these...

Sitting at the picnic table, carefully gluing and painting these while grooving with Elton John on 8-track (we did it) was absolutely contemporary to those OD&D booklets.  And it represents the same basic inspirations!  This was paleo-geekdom, and hordes of us went on to become gamers owing to our interest in these things; monsters, comic books, and the stuff on television...

All the movie giants, like Dracula, Frankenstein, King Kong, the Mummy, and Godzilla counted among the fine kits available, and painting these to taste gave us our first opportunity to express our fantasy leanings within some context.  Nostalgia?  You betcha, but also inspiration for gaming?  Absolutely! 

Nostalgia?  Nostalgia?!  We're talking inspirational game fodder!   

Monday, May 4, 2015

Retrospace (The Coming Update)

We're on (a much needed) vacation right now, but somehow still managed to get Retrospace, our sci-fi themed Braunstein! expansion, out the door.  That said, we'll be drafting one final update sometime around May 16-18th with the following changes.  So if you're playing now, consider these official:

(1) Illiterate characters are PLANETBORN, having less experience with the universe in general, although resourceful.  

(2) Literates are SPACEBORN, being far more familiar with an extended cosmos, getting a lore bonus and speaking another language, subject to the details of the chronicle, etc.

(3) Maximum turning radius is now 60 degrees to better facilitate use of hex maps, and the firing radius for DARTER spacecraft is reduced to 60 degrees, again, for the same.

(4) Terrans may or may not speak a terrestrial language, subject always to the specifics of the judge's chronicle.

We're improving Retrospace,
and planning some freebies to boot! 

If you've already bought Retrospace, consider these official, unless, of course, you decide to change things for your own game or chronicle, etc.  If you haven't bought it yet, you can wait or buy it now safe in the knowledge that the update is coming!

Oh, and we'll be releasing some FREEBIES:

1. Character sheets (reflecting the above changes),

2. Planetary worksheets with life form and terrain tables, and

3. Spacecraft worksheets (for battles)!

Expect this in late May, so fire up those lasers you space cadets!